Bulldozers at the gate | Land Portal

BULLDOZERS AT THE GATES — Here’s a novel idea: Let’s save the forests. As the U.N. Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, gets underway, the first big promise is about deforestation.

More than 100 countries, including Brazil, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, have pledged to halt and even reverse forest loss by 2030. They have financial backing from a dozen wealthy nations, including the U.S. and Canada, that promise to spend $12 billion over the next five years to help the effort. The private sector will throw in another $7 billion.

This isn’t new. Dozens of world leaders made a similar announcement at the U.N. climate summit in 2014, and things have gotten only worse. The rate of tree-cover loss has increased by 40 percent, and countries are spending a fraction of the money needed to protect, restore and sustainably manage forests. 

This is new: On Monday, Indigenous people won global recognition that securing their land rights could help the climate. Indigenous populations hold an estimated 65 percent of the world’s land area, but only 10 percent is recognized under national laws. Even less is officially registered, according to the Rights and Resources Initiative.

About $1.7 billion of the funding announced Monday will be steered toward that cause.

A plea: “Don’t make political promises that you’re not going to keep,” Tuntiak Katan, a Shuar from Ecuador who represents the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, told the assembly. “Don’t make finance announcements or announcements on the climate if you’re not going to work with Indigenous communities.”

“Please don’t murder us,” Katan said. “Don’t kill us.”

Indigenous communities have long been overlooked in the fight against climate change, but that’s started to shift. In March, a U.N.-backed review of more than 300 studies found that deforestation rates in Latin America and the Caribbean are significantly lower in indigenous and tribal territories where governments have formally recognized collective land rights.

Still, the lands they manage are increasingly at risk, particularly in the Amazon Basin. From 2000 to 2016, intact forest in the region declined by about 5 percent in Indigenous areas, compared with 11 percent in non-Indigenous areas, according to the review.

“Bulldozers are at the gates, so these communities need support,” said Kevin Currey, a program officer for the Ford Foundation, which is committing $100 million to the deforestation effort. 

“It’s also cost effective,” Currey said. “Governments can title land cheaply. What’s been missing is the money. This is a historic pledge.”

ONE MORE FOREST ANNOUNCEMENT — Six more companies have joined the public-private LEAF Coalition. The group, launched in April, plans to spend $1 billion to buy carbon credits from countries that reduce tropical deforestation. Newcomers to the group include BlackRock Inc., Walmart Inc., Burberry Group PLC, Inditex, Intertek Group PLC and SAP.

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